The Forge and Smith team are pros at working from home.
We’ve been a remote office for several years, and the way we work together is efficient and productive. We use Slack to communicate throughout the day, and tools like Basecamp and Google Drive to share files and communications with our team and our clients.
In the pre-COVID-19 world, our web developers visited a coworking space every Friday to get face time and share knowledge, and once a month the whole team got together for lunch and a fun bonding activity. (We sure miss those days!)
There are great benefits to your mental health and productivity that come with working out of your own personal space.
The perks of working from home
- Reduced company overhead (rent, utilities)
- No commute
- Ability to control your work environment (noise, temperature, organization, decor) for maximum focus, productivity, and happiness
- Flexible hours (this isn’t the case for all companies, but it’s one we enjoy!)
- 24/7 access to dog or cat cuddles
- Always home for package deliveries
- Wearing whatever’s most comfortable for the temperature
It sounds dreamy, and often it feels that way too. But working from home presents lots of challenges that outside workplaces just don’t have. People often assume the temptation of TV or your phone are the only threats to productivity, but lots of other issues can arise.
Has your marketing budget suddenly shrunk? Check out How to Plan a Year of Great Content on a Small Budget for our tips to make it work!
Work from home challenges
- Constantly seeing chores that need doing (and doing them)
- Distractions like pets, kids, and partners who need attention
- Skipping breaks because you can make a meal in your kitchen in five minutes
- Not taking sick days because as long as you can sit upright, you can work
- Working outside work hours because your work is RIGHT THERE
- Endless snacking because those are right there, too
- No reason to wear nice clothes, ever
- Becoming antisocial because it’s easier to stay in PJs after work
- Pets or family members wandering (or leaping) into video meetings
- Irritability toward loved ones or roommates who dare to use the home as a home during work hours
Some of the most common tips for working from home are things like keeping your phone out of reach, silencing notifications, defining your work hours, communicating well (and often) with coworkers, and being super conscious of when your camera and mic are on during video meetings.
Our team wanted to go beyond that, and share our best work from home tips for mental and physical well being. We hope these will help anyone new to remote work – and those who already work from home but want to be even more successful.
Our best work from home tips
Move. When on non-video calls, put the call on speaker and move around. I actually have a small trampoline that I bounce on to elevate my heart rate a bit and keep my mind focused on the call. I also take a 30-minute walk with the dogs, rain or shine, at lunchtime to get fresh air and stretch my legs. I often take that time to listen to some kind of business or marketing audiobook.
Founder and Lead Strategist
Especially during this global situation, taking time to FaceTime family is important, both to break up the workday and to touch base with loved ones.
Operations Director and Partner
Establish a strong routine – it’s easy to get a bit complacent with routine when working from home, and wind up rolling out of bed and onto the computer. Prepare for the day as if you were going to work: have a shower, actually put on presentable clothing, even go for a short walk before work. It’s important to create a distinction between work and home life when the two intersect, and a strong pre-work routine can help.
Working in good alignment will help minimize bodily pains and improve your efficiency. Try placing multiple post-its around the workspace to remind yourself: “Watch your posture!”
If you use a laptop, change up your work environment. I used to go to cafes and libraries, but now that it’s unsafe to be in public spaces, a more stay-at-home option would be to change spots around your house – like your balcony if it’s a nice sunny day.
I try to use the Pomodoro Technique to stay focused, and ensure I take breaks and give myself time to recharge. I do 30 minutes of focused work with a five minute break to get up and walk around. Also, a dog walk at lunch is a great way to break up the work day and get outside.
I get up once every 45 minutes at a minimum, and get out of my workspace for 5-15 mins. I create little targets to hit for each 45 minute window before I get up. This comes in super clutch when problem solving in QA, as most of the time the solution arrives in minutes after taking a short break. Also – ask a lot of questions! We miss out on a lot of visual communication (body language, hand talking) when working from home, so it’s important to ask plenty of questions early and often to stay efficient.
Create benchmarks to hit during the day, and fit your personal wellness activities around that. Go into a day knowing what needs to get done, and have a plan to accomplish it by a certain time. It can be easy to let your day expand and drift unless you stay very goal oriented.
Create an isolated space so that you can have total privacy from a roommate or S.O. – if you can’t be separated by actual walls, put up a standing screen and wear noise-cancelling headphones. This will reduce your impulse to chat as thoughts come to mind that you’d normally send via messaging apps (like “what should we do for dinner?” and “the person next to me is chewing so loudly I can’t concentrate, oh wait, that’s you”. Also, if you’re new to this and you have cats, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don’t work in a space that is a cat thoroughfare. They WILL knock over your laptop and trample your keyboard while doing their daily parkour.
Digital Strategy Manager
I have some home gym stuff I use occasionally throughout the day – kettlebells, a yoga mat, resistance bands – but the biggest thing I do is before my day starts and when it ends I go for a big hike, and take the dog snowboarding. (Yes, you read that right. Matt lives on a ski hill that’s currently deserted, so he and his pup have grand adventures.)
The most important takeaway about becoming a remote worker is that you need to set yourself up for success. Whether you feel your best surrounded by plants and diffuser scents, or sitting on an exercise ball, or getting up once every hour to challenge yourself with a brain-teasing game – establish what works for you. And if you feel like there’s not as much to do as there would be at your physical job, you can improve your company’s digital presence while working from home!